The Brothers:: The Hidden World of Japan's Richest Family

Lesley Downer, Author Random House (NY) $25 (418p) ISBN 978-0-679-42554-0
The Sultan of Brunei and the Queen of England are said to be the only people in the world richer than Yoshiaki Tsutsumi, whose assets are variously estimated to be between $9 billion and $22 billion. Although largely unknown in the West, his family has played an important role in the development of post-WWII Japan. His father, founder of the Seibu corporation and a land developer, became speaker of the Diet and a dominant figure in business and government. Yoshiaki, who inherited the major portion of his father's estate, owns a sixth of all the land in Japan, and he too has been a powerful player in Japanese politics. His brother, Seiko, an accomplished writer, was less favored, inheriting a relatively small portion of the Tsutsumi estate; but he also built a business empire. In detailing the family's private and public lives, business dealings, brushes with the Mafia, mistresses, wives and political maneuvers, British journalist Downer (On the Narrow Road to the Deep North), with privileged access to the family, offers important and fresh insights into the last 50 years of Japanese history as it was touched by the Tsutsumi dynasty. In themselves, the family's personal relationships and scandals are the stuff of classic drama. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/29/1995
Release date: 06/01/1995
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